The earliest forms of underground utility lines required trenches to be dug before pipes, lines, and cables were laid. Not only is this a laborious and time-consuming process, it becomes even more difficult in areas where production lines already exist.
The practice of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) began in the 1970s as a means of reducing the cost of installing utilities by digging paths along the entire line. Today, however, the use of horizontal directional drilling enables municipalities, plumbing contractors, utilities and telecommunications providers to install critical infrastructure underground without digging the entire length of trenches.
There is no real way to mitigate cross-drilling in the front and rear of HDDs over time. More recently, a number of sewer line condition assessment companies have leveraged existing technology to develop techniques to mitigate cross-holes that occur when utility lines disrupt existing wastewater infrastructure through HDDs. The time lag between when the HDD first started and when mitigations were developed resulted in a huge gap for utilities that could lead to cross-drilling.
How does hard drive drilling work?
The drilling process consists of three stages:
During the pilot hole stage, the drill bit is pushed into the ground and guided until it reaches a predetermined end point. In this case, drilling fluid is pumped into the hole to carry away the soil and cool the drill bit.
As the drill pipe is pulled out, the reaming tool removes dirt and mud until the hole is slightly larger than the pipe or utility line to be installed.
Finally, the pipe or utility line is pulled through the hole and placed in its intended location. Once fixed, it will be inspected to make sure there are no defects and the site will be restored to its original condition.
Ensure project success
While HDD drilling makes plumbing and utility installation easier in many ways, it still requires great care to prevent problems. One of the most important of these potential problems is cross-drilling. Cross-drilling occurs when a new HDD project crosses an existing pipeline, such as a sewer or natural gas line.
If the local community has outdated or incomplete records and chooses not to dig trenches to uncover existing infrastructure, there is a high risk of digging through structures already in the ground. In the case of natural gas lines, this can lead to service interruptions and even dangerous explosions.